“Hands up if you want to make the world a worse place” I ask the group, but no hands go up. A moment later all hands rise as they want to make the world-they-affect a better place.
They discovered a part of why they’re here: to make the world-they-affect a better place. That’s it, plain and simple. If you can agree with this, congratulations, that’s why you’re here too. This helps answer why you work, why you lead a team, why you’re a citizen. It’s an answer you can own, and of course, you can explore what better looks like.
It sounds so simple, but it’s revolutionary. Imagine you’re here so life is better for friends and family, colleagues and customers, community and connections; actually everyone. That includes you. Working on your own development can enable you make a bigger difference. Given the opportunity, we all want to make things better. If your life is like mine, you’ll have plenty of opportunities.
This isn’t only about big stuff. It turns out life is about little stuff: a hint of a smile, a look, a moment, a pause, even a kind thought. Maybe you can be more intentional about this. Before you go into your next meeting, take a moment to sense: what’s the difference you can make here? This isn’t an ad hoc activity: it’s an always, everywhere thing. It becomes you.
As it turns out, there’s no self-sacrifice. You probably know this. How do you feel when you give, when you’re working towards a worthwhile purpose? This can be a source of courage. When I focus on my wants, my courage evaporates, when I focus on others’ welfare I’m borderline courageous. It’s taken years to work this out. I even wrote a short book, “Why you are here – Briefly”, to explore this further.
So here’s a counter-intuitive idea: whatever you give, you have; whatever you hold, you lose. One day my daughter gave me a T-shirt with the slogan, “The secret of living is giving”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Somehow we have to get beyond ourselves. It’s OK to be second.
A 12-year old girl called Athena Orchard passed on last week after a long illness. Before she went she wrote that “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. She got it. What will the world be like when we really get this?
Categories: Living and Leading